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Travel like a flight attendant with these pro-approved bags — starting at $24

Don't overspend on that all-important personal item — stick with these affordable picks from the professionals.

black laptop backpack, green travelpto travel tote, black waterproof travel purse
Yep — they'll all fit under the seat in front of you. (Amazon)

With the 4th of July holiday just days away, lots of folks are on the hunt for affordable luggage to take on their summer vacay. Typically, people focus their attention on a new carry-on or checked suitcase but, when you think of it, the bag you'll use the most is your "personal item." You'll be constantly reaching in there for your passport and wallet and it's probably where you'll store your valuables. So, yeah, it's an important purchase. Our advice? Before you make any rash decisions, have a look at what air-travel pros keep tossed over their shoulder.

Quick overview

We've spotlighted many flight-crew travel favorites, from comfy shoes to carry-on luggage, but close-at-hand carry-ons seem to have a special place in their hearts. If you're looking for an unexpectedly roomy under-seat bag, this Travelpro travel tote has flight attendants' stamp of approval. Prefer a more casual option? Some stewards of the sky use this spacious rucksack as a purse/carry-on hybrid.

Check out the expert-approved travel bags below so you're ready to pack like a pro on your next trip.

Looking for a bag that's a bit more slouchy and casual? "I am a flight attendant, and carry this every single day!" one sky-high shopper raved. "I carry it as my purse. I had to get something out for a friend the other day, and she couldn't believe how much I had in it! It holds a lot, and I have the medium." A 10%-off coupon means more room in your travel budget too!.

$24 at Amazon

This No. 1 bestselling pack has received over 12,000 five-star Amazon ratings. Packed with compartments, it's roomy enough to fit everything from your laptop and toiletries to a few changes of clothes. 

"I bring it on all my trips," this crew member gushed. "[I] literally love it so much. There's so much space and it opens all the way, like a mini suitcase. 10/10."

$27 at Amazon

Reinforced edges, a steel frame and water-resistant fabric make this bag a rough-and-ready option for the not-always-friendly skies. Other features include a padded laptop compartment, USB charging port and 19 — yes, 19 — pockets.

"I'm a flight attendant and have seen a few of my colleagues with this bag recently, so thought I'd check it out," this curious shopper wrote. "I love all the compartments with places for everything! I'm looking forward to using it. The USB charger is a bonus!"

$37 at Amazon

Flight-crew members have been recommending Travelpro products for ages, and this lightweight carry-on tote is one of their faves. It's compact enough to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat but spacious enough to hold all of your essentials (and then some). Make sure you clip that $10.20 on-page coupon.

"I am a flight attendant, and I find the flight crew bags too heavy and too big," one five-star reviewer said. "This is the perfect size, fits my in-flights, my electronics, cardigan and essentials."

$75 at Amazon

If you have Amazon Prime, you'll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.